Meck Sheriff responds after man at center of ICE conflict sentenced to 20 years in prison

Meck Sheriff responds after man at center of ICE conflict sentenced to 20 years in prison
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden is responding after the man who was at the center of his 2019 conflict with ICE was sentenced to 20 years in prison for kidnapping in Charlotte. (Source: Devin Futrelle | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden is responding after the man who was at the center of his 2019 conflict with ICE was sentenced to 20 years in prison for kidnapping in Charlotte.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr sentenced Luis Analberto Pineda-Anchecta, 38, a Honduran national, to 240 months in prison and five years of supervised release on kidnapping charges.

Sheriff McFadden received heavy criticism after Pineda-Ancheta was released from the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in 2019 despite an ICE detainer.

But the sheriff says not honoring an ICE detainer request was not the only reason that Pineda-Ancheta had the opportunity to re-offend. He points to the court’s option to set a much higher bond or ICE’s option to seek illegal re-entry charges in a timelier manner.

“I remain steadfast and confident that not honoring ICE detainers is in the best interest of the people of Mecklenburg County: promoting greater cooperation and trust between local law enforcement and the immigrant community. It is tragic that Pineda-Ancheta chose to re-offend upon his court-ordered release. I regret that he did, and I remain relieved that no one was more seriously injured. But my not honoring an ICE detainer request was not the only reason that Pineda-Ancheta had the opportunity to re-offend. The court could have set a significantly higher bond. Additionally, ICE could have sought illegal re-entry charges against Pineda in a timelier manner – which would have kept him in custody after his initial arrest and prevented the subsequent kidnapping. Still, I am grateful that the federal authorities saw fit to bring the kidnapping charges against Pineda-Ancheta, to insure accountability and justice for the community and especially the victim. Too often individuals like Pineda-Ancheta would be deported before any underlying charges (typically state charges) could be prosecuted. I am excited about the new Administration in Washington D.C. and look forward to having more open respectable conversations with federal and local leadership to work together to keep our communities as safe as possible,” Sheriff McFadden said.

Sheriff McFadden also responded to Senate Bill 101, saying he traveled to Raleigh Tuesday morning to oppose it and was “very displeased” to learn the bill was removed from the docket and another portion of the bill was amended.

“Like its predecessor HB370, SB101 seeks to force every duly elected Sheriff in North Carolina to honor heretofore voluntary ICE detainers, even if most of the Sheriff’s community – and the Sheriff himself with the community in mind – is wholly opposed to such cooperation with ICE. As I said when HB370 was before the legislature and I opposed it: my decades of experience in law enforcement consistently demonstrate a commitment to making my community safer, without dividing any persons or groups of persons within that community. I was elected with a clear mandate to stop honoring voluntary ICE detainers, and my reasons for endorsing and embracing that mandate are unequivocally on the record. I firmly believe that Mecklenburg County is a safer community when local law enforcement does not do ICE’s job, and all members of our community can trust and engage with local law enforcement without fear of repercussions so severe as deportation. Again, as I said when HB370 was proposed, I recognize that other Sheriffs may have differing views and adopt differing policies about immigration and cooperating with ICE. I respect those Sheriffs’ positions just as I know they respect mine. But just as HB370 tried to before, SB101 would usurp the power of every Sheriff and local community to set its own policies. Whereas it remains my firm belief that the people of each county, as reflected by the decisions of the Sheriff whom they elected, should retain the ability to decide, within the clear confines of the law, to what extent local law enforcement might cooperate with federal immigration authorities,” Sheriff McFadden said.

In January, Sen. Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Bishop (R-NC) reintroduced the Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act to combat sanctuary cities.

WBTV discovered in 2019 that nearly 500 undocumented immigrants had been released from jails across North Carolina in a ten-month span despite administrative detainers filed against them by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The debate over whether local authorities should cooperate with ICE detainers raged in 2019 after Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden announced he would no longer honor ICE detainers. McFadden campaigned on a pledge to not participate in the 287(g) program, a federal program where local law enforcement agencies are given authority to enforce some immigration laws. McFadden ended his office’s participation in the 287(g) program soon after taking office in December 2018 and also announced he would no longer honor ICE detainers, which are separate from the 287(g) program.

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